Category Music

Fifth Annual Songs of Summer

When I decided to celebrate the summer solstice of 2013 with a salute to “Songs of Summer,” I had a warm, portentous feeling—“Hey, I could do this again next year and maybe even annually!”—and a tiny concern: “Might I run out of summer songs someday?”

The warm feeling has come to pass with three subsequent editions of this Rite of Summer, the whole previous lot available for viewing and listening here, while the concern has proven to be slightly ridiculous, given how many songs—of  the pop-rock genres  in particular—incorporate summer themes. Seems the warmer days get us out more, and the longer nights keep us out there doing the things people do in the sweet, sweet summertime. Here’s to yours!

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Leave it to The Kinks to record this iconic song on a frozen and snowy winter day...

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Iris Dement Takes on the Philosophers

 

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Everybody’s wonderin’ what and where they all came from
Everybody’s worryin’ ’bout where they’re gonna go
When the whole thing’s done
But no one knows for certain
And so it’s all the same to me
I think I’ll just let the mystery be

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“Through the ontological interpretation of Dasein as being-in-the-world no decision, whether positive or negative, is made concerning a possible being toward God. It is, however, the case that through an illumination of transcendence we first achieve an adequate concept of Dasein, with respect to which it can now be asked how the relationship of Dasein to God is ontologically ordered.”
—From Martin Heidegger’s essay, “On the Essence of Ground” (1928)

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Some say once you’re gone you’re gone forever
And some say you’re gonna come back
Some say you rest in the arms of the Saviour
If in sinful ways you lack

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“How do we know there is an afterlife? B...

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President Trump and the Hard Rain That’s A-Gonna Fall

“I will build a great wall—and nobody builds walls better than me, believe me—and I’ll build them very inexpensively. I will build a great, great wall on our southern border, and I will make Mexico pay for that wall. Mark my words.”

Oh, where have you been, my blue-eyed son?
Oh, where have you been, my darling young one?
 I’ve stumbled on the side of twelve misty mountains
I’ve walked and I’ve crawled on six crooked highways
 I’ve stepped in the middle of seven sad forests

“It’s really cold outside, they are calling it a major freeze, weeks ahead of normal. Man, we could use a big fat dose of global warming!

I’ve been out in front of a dozen dead oceans
I’ve been ten thousand miles in the mouth of a graveyard
And it’s a hard, and it’s a hard, it’s a hard, and it’s a hard
And it’s a hard rain’s a-gonna fall

“Black guys counting my money! I hate it...

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Call and (Heartrending) Response: Bob Dylan’s “Boots of Spanish Leather”

One of my favorite musical activities is to snag a bunch of versions of the same song off You Tube or iTunes and then luxuriate in the fine art of interpretation. It’s rather like stepping into a favorite winery and assenting to the server’s inquiry with, “Why yes, I believe I will try seven different pinots from your seven different vineyards scattered over hill and coast and dale. Cheers!”

This is especially true when the song is just flat-out great, garnering the deep respect and reverence of the covering artists.

A song, for example, such as Bob Dylan’s “Boots of Spanish Leather.”

What a song.

What a poem.

Recorded in 1963 and released the following year on his “The Times They Are Changin’” album, “Boots of Spanish Leather” shows Dylan at just about his writerly best, a mere babe at 22 years old, giving clear indications of the literary bent that would earn him the Nobel ...

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A Deep Ache of Laughter: On the Razor’s Edge With Loudon Wainwright

One of the widely regarded hallmarks of great art is that it be honest and authentic, a true expression of the artist’s unique vision. The best art probes, focuses, explores, suggests, reveals. Sometimes that exploration and self-revelation plunges the artist too near scalding depths of pain and suffering, and the laying bare becomes too intense. The solace of drink, drugs, and the ultimate self-destructive behavior of suicide may then beckon.  (Van Gogh, Rothko, Hemingway, Plath, Woolf, Sexton, Morrison, Joplin, Cobain, Robin Williams; it’s a long casualty list.)

Among contemporary artists in whatever genre, probably none explore their demons with quite the unflinching, ruthless honesty of singer-songwriter Loudon Wainwright III. (Those roman numerals loom large in his history; more on that below.)


From down here in the audience, it doesn’t look easy being Wainwright, whom I saw from two rows back...

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